The Average Age of Marriage Went Up Again This Year
Surprise! (Or is it?) According to The Knot 2019 Real Weddings Study, the average age of marriage in the U.S. has, once again, increased year over year. The data, which surveyed over 27,000 couples—all of whom married between January 1 and December 31—revealed a rising average marital age comprised of a diverse pool of respondents. The same pattern holds true for the average age of marriage in the last decade, which has steadily increased as well.
The 2019 Average Age of Marriage
In 2019, the average age of marriage for female participants was 30, while male respondents married at age 34. The average age of marriage in the U.S., therefore, falls at 32 years. Presumably, this is the average age of the first marriage for the majority of participants. Factors like the evolving workforce, a stronger sense of self and overall societal behavioral patterns all play a role in influencing the average age of marriage in the U.S.
“We’re realizing that the brain doesn’t fully develop until people are around 25, which is very different from how people used to think about adulthood, which was 18 or college age,” says psychologist Dr. Lara Friedrich. “People are taking longer to find themselves, which is a good thing. By the time people are getting married, they have a better sense of who they really are, meaning they’re more secure in their career and their sense of self the older they get. And that helps them make good decisions with their life partner.”
Steve Dziedzic, Founder and CEO of marital health app Lasting, has especially seen such a pattern amongst millennials. "More and more, this generation is encouraged to identify, express and honor their needs," he says. "In a dating relationship today, it’s perfectly okay to break things off if your partner is unwilling to meet your needs. Inevitably, this can lead to a higher marriage age because millennials are willing to wait for a partner who will wholly support them."
So how exactly does the increase in the average age of marriage impact weddings today? To start, the study found that more couples are increasingly contributing to the total cost of the wedding, as opposed to solely relying on parents on either side to financially support the nuptials. “Additionally, life is not so traditional anymore,” notes Kathleen Entwistle, Senior Vice President of Wealth Management at UBS. “Many couples are both working, therefore they are getting married later. [And with weddings], the finances of each family can also be a factor. When the average age of marriage increases, couples tend to take more ownership in both the details of the wedding, as well as the sharing of the expenses." (In other words, it's not just your mother's wedding.)
The Average Age of Marriage By Region
Not-so-surprising is how the average age of couples varies according to region. For example, the data indicates that it skews slightly higher in the Northeast (brides, age 32, and grooms, age 33) while couples in the South will wed, on average, at age 31. Regionality certainly has its impact on a variety of factors related to wedding planning, including the average cost of a wedding, the average number of guests and, of course, the average age of marriage.
“Even micro-regional influence counts," says Dr. Friedrich, who also attributes education level and socioeconomics as top factors that play into the overall formula of marriage age. "And if you work with clients who are religious, there might be the possibility of lower averages in the age of marriage." See how it breaks down per region below.
Northeast: Female, 32, Male, 33; Average Age of Couple, 33
Mid-Atlantic: Female, 31, Male, 33; Average Age of Couple, 32
Midwest: Female, 30, Male, 31; Average Age of Couple, 31
South/Southeast: Female, 31, Male, 31; Average Age of Couple, 31
Southwest: Female, 30, Male, 31; Average Age of Couple, 31
West: Female, 31, Male, 33; Average Age of Couple, 32
The Average Age of Marriage By State
Finally, couples based in certain states across the U.S. will skew based on locale, depending on towns and proximity to close friend groups. “There’s research on this that people are very influenced by their peers,” says Dr. Friedrich. “There’s a very real peer effect where people see their friends and inner circle getting married and that can cause more pressure. People’s influence on each other and their social circles can be very strong.” See the state-by-state breakdown below.
D.C. (Metro DC, Maryland, Northern Virginia), 33
New Hampshire, 33
New Jersey, 33
New Mexico/ Arizona, 33
New York, 33
North Carolina, 32
Dakotas (North & South Dakota), 32
Rhode Island, 33
South Carolina, 33
West Virginia / Virginia, 31
Wyoming / Wyoming, 32
Millennial marital success is still being reviewed by researchers, but there is one strong habit to properly form from the onset of marriage (and the relationship itself) to prevent divorce from creeping into the picture. “Communication is key,” says Dr. Friedrich. “Communicating with each other that allows you to listen, avoiding defensiveness, criticism, stonewalling and contempt are four things that lead couples down the road to divorce, according to the Gottman Institute. Taking time to speak and communicate in a way that is meaningful can be useful.”
Another tactic, says Liz Colizza, Head of Therapy at Lasting, is exploring how to be a safe place for your significant other. "Scientifically, personal growth thrives in 'secure attachment relationships,' which is where you feel emotionally safe with another person," she explains. "Attachment serves as a gentle, reassuring voice telling you it's okay to explore your interests, dreams, and passions. With a healthy attachment, you're more equipped to grow in all other areas of your life. At some point, building a secure attachment relationship is one of the best ways to foster your own personal growth… There is power in partnership."